Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Week In The Pacific Northwest

Well, I'm off to Portland, OR this morning. I'll be spending 5 days with my stepson and his lovely wife, then I'm off to Washington to play with several of my glassy friends. It's a "knowledge exchange" get together, and I'll be heading up a felting workshop. How fun is that?! I'll also be coming home with some new skills under my belt. Hmmm... I don't know how skillful I'll be right off the bat, but I'm sure with some practice...

So I will leave you for awhile - but I should have some fun pix when I return on Sept. 8.

In the mean time, have yourselves a happy and creative week!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Made Something On a Whim

So today I was going to start a third wall hanging so that I could have an abstract design as a sample. Instead, I went in a completely different direction. I have some ceramic buttons by Lisa Peters that I purchased at the Bead & Button Show, and one of them was staring at me in the wet lab. So I decided to make a felt cuff. I really didn't know what I was doing, and I'm not very happy with the shape of the sides. But I'm going to embellish it anyhow - maybe the wavy sides will give it a more organic look. Lisa's button will be the focal piece on the top of this cuff.

Here's the piece of felt - it's not quite dry yet.

Now I'm off to have some tea with mom and work a bit more on my felted poppies picture. That one is changing quite a bit - I'm adding more needle felting with a bit of warm color. Yum!

Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fun at BAGI and the Latest From the Wet Lab

My weekends have been a bit busy since I took my glass coldworking class. Our Society of Glass Beadmakers Northern California group had a monthly meeting at BAGI (Bay Area Glass Institute) where I teach glass beadmaking. That was great fun - folks had opportunities to make a blown glass object and/or a fused glass tile, and also participate in the "bead toss". I want to thank the folks at BAGI for hosting the event and offering their time and talent to assist our group of bead makers with their creations. Thank you Tom Upchurch, Mark Murai, Treg Silkwood, and Johnathon Schmuck for all your time and hard work! And thanks to Malcolm for making a "soda run" - you rock!

Here are some pix from our event at BAGI.

In the hot shop - Mark gives a helping hand

In the hot shop - Treg assists

Lampworkers participating in the bead toss -
Johnathon and the fusers on the other side of the wall


So now I'm getting ready to teach a mini-workshop in Washington over Labor Day weekend. My project is a small felted wall hanging, and I've started another one to bring as a sample. This time it's flowers - no birds, no trees, no leaves. But there will be beads on it - I can't make a felted object without embellishing it!

These are a few pix I took during the process. First I made a pre-felt from which I cut out the shapes for the flowers. Here are the fibers before I wet them down.

After felting the flower fibers, I laid out the fibers for the background. I had my little studio buddy Niki keeping me company - she just loves coming out into the wet lab with me.

After I wet down the background fibers, I placed my flowers, put additional fibers on them, and added wool yarn for the stems.

Now that I've fulled and dried the piece, the embellishing is coming along quite nicely. I've beefed up the stems with some needle felting and I'll be enhancing the flowers with some bead work. Before I head up to the Pacific Northwest this coming Saturday, I'll show you pictures of the finished projects.

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Story of the Broken Vase

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."

Actually, it was December of 2002 in the galaxy of Connecticut. I was visiting my mom - she still lived back there at the time - and I decided that I needed to get out by myself for a bit. I went into a West Hartford shop that was part boutique, part glass art gallery, and of course I headed straight for the glass. The gallery was arranged rather strangely; in the center of the room there were 4 rows of pedestals of varying heights with a space between the 2 center rows so that you could walk completely around the group of pedestals. Each pedestal supported a piece or two of glass art. However, there weren't any signs or cards that identified the artist of each piece, or the price for that matter. There was a vessel on the "inside" row of pedestals that I was interested in. Here's a very crude sketch of the section of the gallery that interested me. (I know, I should stick to glass and fiber art rather than drawing...)

The vessel was so lovely that I had already decided that if the price was right, I'd bring it back to California with me. Now... notice the 2 tall vases on the pedestal to the left and in front of the object of my desire. Next, notice the shallow bowl to the left of the 2 vases. And lastly, remember that this was December in Connecticut. Cold! Brrrrrr! Big winter coat! I think you're getting the drift...

I put my purse down and reached in to lift up the piece I wanted to purchase. (hmmm... that's a lot of p's.) Anyhow, as I reached in I felt the left side of my coat brush up against something. When I looked to the left, I saw the tall vase rocking and I panicked. Instinctively, I grabbed it with my left hand and was so relieved that it didn't fall. Unfortunately, I didn't grab it soon enough to keep it from hitting the identical top-heavy vase next to it. That vase took a nose dive directly onto the shallow bowl on the low pedestal next to it, taking out most of the top portion of the vase, the right side of the bowl and a corner of the mirrored glass top on the pedestal.

My heart went into my throat as I slowly sank to the floor to pick up the pieces, while dollar signs floated through my mind's eye. The gal who was working there came over to help and she thanked me for not running out of the shop. I gave her a quizzical look, and she told me that they had had several incidents over the years in which people had broken their glass art and hightailed it out the door. That should have been a red flag for me. We took the pieces up to the register counter and then she called the shop owner. After a brief phone conversation, she wrote up a receipt and presented me with the bill. Holy smokes! I guess it could have been a lot worse. I never even thought to question why their insurance didn't cover it, I was just too shaken by the mishap. She wrapped up the pieces and put them into a bag, then asked me if I wanted them. Well for cryin' out loud - I just paid $425 for a pile of broken glass, I wasn't going to leave it there.


Needless to say, I came home with a broken vase, 2/3 of a shallow bowl, and various small pieces of glass while the object of my desire remained in that little shop of horrors in West Hartford, Connecticut. And that's the story of the broken vase.

Here's the vase after it was coldworked a bit. There's still more work to do on it, but I'm not going to spend a whole bunch of time with it. It was a good hunk of glass to use as practice.

In the picture it looks like black glass encased in crystal but it's actually a beautiful deep blue/purple glass encased in crystal and partially sandblasted. And here's the remaining portion of the bowl that I inadvertently purchased.

The pattern was created by masking it and then sandblasting the bowl. I'm thinking that if I saw, grind, and polish the broken edge I can use it to create a wall sconce. You know, when life give you lemons...

In other news, I have a treasury to show you in which my work was featured. This goes back a bit - I'm just now catching up.

spindriftstudio included my Summer Garden Felted Vessel in her lovely treasury "Summer Fiber Magic".

Thank you Gigi! Be sure to visit her store to see her works in fiber such as this beautiful wall hanging "The Wonder of Tulips". This would have been a perfect addition to her treasury!

And that wraps up today's stories. Tomorrow I'll be cleaning the studio where I teach bead making, then perhaps some work in the wet lab. Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Busy Weekend - a Learning Weekend!

This past weekend I had the pleasure - and pain - of taking a glass coldworking class with Johnathon Schmuck. Coldworking, as Johnathon describes it, is "... the manipulation and alteration of glass without the addition of heat -- the changing of form and surface via some sort of mechanical or hand-manipulated method.". Here's Johnathon doing me a favor - showing me how to remove some glass from the top of a broken vase on the radius wheel. Tomorrow I'll tell you the story of the broken vase.

Class was from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. About the only time I sat was during the short period of time when I ate my lunch. I spent both days grinding and sanding and sand blasting and polishing. And it was HOT in the shop - wouldn't you know it that the days I took my first class at BAGI it was in the high 90's, and that was outside! At the end of Saturday's class I was so beat that while I was out having dinner with family I felt myself nodding off a few times at the table. And I don't think my legs have ached that badly since the first time I went water skiing. On Sunday we went back to do it all again. Needless to say, Sunday night I was toast! Despite the pain produced by using muscles I had forgotten about and by standing on concrete for 7 1/2 hours each day, I really really enjoyed myself. And Johnathon rocks! He's very knowledgeable, very talented, and very mellow.

Here are more pix I took of Johnathon showing us how to perform various tasks.

Flattening the bottom of a drinking glass on the flat lap wheel

Doing some hand-lapping on the glass bottom with silicon carbide

Giving the dome in the glass bottom a final cerium oxide polish on the lathe

I'm going to have to make some glass objects specifically for coldworking so that I can practice what I learned before I forget it!

Oddly enough, after I got home from dinner on Sunday night the Ibuprofen kicked in and my legs started to uncramp. So I sat myself down in front of some mindless TV and continued to embellish my felted wall hanging. I've added lots of texture to the tree branches along with some "auxilliary" branches using the needle felting technique. I think it's starting to shape up quite nicely. All that's left is to add a few strategically-placed beads here and there. Gotta make 'em first, though...

Here's a lengthwise view of a portion of the wall hanging. When it's finished, you'll get to see it in its entirety.

Now it's time for my evening tea, and then to bed. Tomorrow will be filled with glass... or fiber... or maybe a bit of each! Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A New WIP - It's For the Birds...

I've had birds on my mind for quite awhile now. Maybe it's because our neighborhood has changed over the last few years. The crows moved in, and I don't hear as many other birds as I used to. The mocking birds are now rather scarce, and I miss them! When I first noticed the preponderance of crows I started taking pictures of them in my back yard. One day I took my camera through the neighborhood to see what they were up to.

I've also been collecting pictures of birds in print and on the web... I even bought a ring from Kate McKinnon that has birds on it. She had them at the Bead & Button Show and I just couldn't resist!

Here are some of my birds from the 'hood. I like this guy - coming in for a landing to join the party.

I don't know what this poor bird did, but he/she sure is getting a scolding!

And this guy really likes living dangerously.

Today I decided to do something different in the wet lab - I made my first wall hanging. And, of course, I had to put a bird in there. Right now it's still a work in progress. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to embellish it, but I'll definitely be adding "stuff" to this piece. And I had so much fun with it that I'm sure there will be more of these in my future. I learned a lot during this process - things that I did wrong, things to look out for. But that's what it's all about, isn't it? Days in which I learn something new are little treasures! Here's a section of my wall hanging, waiting for some enhancements.

And once again it has gotten to be time for sleeping. I'll be dreaming about my next wall piece for sure. Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Latest WIP Is Finished!

I'm just about to head out the door to teach my bead making class. But I want to show you the finished vessel before I leave - I got it done last night! I had originally planned on using one more item on it but it was too heavy and pulled the vessel over. I didn't want to add a counterweight on the other side of the vessel, so I decided to simplify. And sometimes simple is better - I've very happy with this piece!

In case you're wondering, there's a feather at the top of the vessel. It isn't permanently attached in case the future owner of this piece wants to remove it. I was rather amazed at how well it picks up the pattern I put into the top part of the vessel, that was not at all intentional.

I will leave you with my finished work of the day - and perhaps I'll have another WIP to show you later this week. For now, have a happy and creative day!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Quick Preview of a WIP

I spent the day working on my "earthy" vessel on which I will use one of the crackle white raku donuts that I acquired from MAKUstudio. It's all fulled and is on the rack drying - yay! What a job it was... mainly because I made a mistake. I pulled out the wrong template and was part way through building it when I realized that the template was way too big. OMGosh, it was challenging fulling this one and getting a decent shape on it!

Here are a few WIP pix that I took during layer 4. I built this vessel with 6 layers of "stuff". The dark fibers are Merino wool, the light fibers are Harrisville fleece which is a Merino cross fiber. It behaves very differently from the pure Merino and it was a bit tough combining the two. Now I have a vessel that has distinctly different textures on the top and the bottom, which I think adds a lot of interest! The colors and patterns in this one, which I haven't added in these pictures, are VERY subtle. I'll have another picture for you later in the week so you can see how I finished the top layer.

Dry Fibers - Layer 4

Layer 4 Wet

Sure doesn't look like much here, but the finished vessel looks quite nice.

And now I'm off to bed so I can get an early start in the morning. Go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

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